It was a balmy summer’s evening, still warm even as the sun set behind the hill. The sky was a dappled pink with light, wispy clouds floating on the sky like foam on a calm shore. The silence was broken only by the sound of birds whispering goodbye to the last light of day.
From her mossy perch, she gazed down on the countryside she loved. Lowering herself backwards, she lay down, enjoying the peace and tranquillity. Relaxed, she allowed her thoughts to drift to times past, to the people whose lives had intertwined with hers.
She remembered the days when they needed her. Regular phone calls, knocks on the door, emails and text messages. How she had enjoyed helping friends and family, always willing to drop everything when they called. She reminisced about the cosy feeling inside that came from knowing that she had done something good, made their lives a little easier, not expecting anything in return.
Her thoughts moved on to darker times. To the endless days and nights of struggling. Putting one foot in front of the other, keeping going. Left, right, left, right. Stepping forwards into an ever darkening void of exhaustion, fear and loneliness.
She couldn’t shake that feeling of being so very alone. Where were they then? The visitors, the callers, the messengers? Occasionally, they would appear, asking her for something like they always used to do. She tried to help them, she longed for that feeling of being useful beyond the mundane drudgery of keeping on going.
She made plans with them, her heart soaring when somebody agreed to a day out or a quiet evening drink. There would be idle chatter, discussing the weather, their lives or the latest celebrity gossip. There would be somebody to help her with her responsibilities, just for a few hours to lighten the burden. But always at the last minute, they cancelled. She knew, the pain of those days had been too much for her to bear, how could she have expected anyone to go through it with her?
With a heavy heart, she forced herself to move forwards again in the memories of her life. She couldn’t bear the dark days consuming her mind. Bringing her thoughts back to the present time, she contemplated all the people who were still around.
The kindly shopkeeper who could always spare a smile. The friendly neighbour who stopped occasionally for a chat when they happened to pass in the street. The solicitor who had come to the house to write her will when she hadn’t felt able to face the chaos of the city to go to his office.
She smiled at the thought that there was still some good in the world. She knew then that the people who had let her down hadn’t meant to cause upset. They had their own lives to lead. They too would come upon difficult times and this time, she wouldn’t be there. Life had moved on, things had changed.
They had chosen to leave her behind and she knew it was the right decision. They didn’t need her there to drag them down, others could fill her place. She had once been a helper, a positive force in their lives and she hoped that she would be remembered for that. Perhaps the dark days could be forgotten.
She sat up and looked again at the serenity of the landscape on that balmy summer evening. She breathed it in, just one more time. One last breath. Her eyes closed as she exhaled, finally free and at peace.
And life went on. The people who had once loved her paused when they heard of her passing. For a moment, they thought back to the good times all those years ago. Then they awoke from their daydreams, gathered their thoughts and lived their lives.